The Gothic Quarter is the historical centre and the oldest part of the ciy of Barcelona and until nowadays it is the centre of the political and institutional representation. Some of the most interesting places of this neighbourhood of Barcelona are the Cathedral, the Church of Santa Maria del Pi and the squares (the Plaza del Rei, the plaza Real,the plaza del Pi y La Plaza Sant Jaume with the City hall of Barcelona and the Government of Catalunya). The Gothic Quarter is going down from Plaça Catalunya to the famous Ramblas, the famous 2 km boulevard ending at the harbour of Barcelona. The Gothic Quertar can be distinguished by its narrow streets and squares full of stores, street-cafés, terraces, bars and restaurants.
I took the Carrer del Bisbe from Plaça Nova and I admired the picturesque balcony(pic 1) before approaching Plaça de Sant Jaume which was the site of the Forum when the city was still called Barcino. A place for politicians now and then you can see that the square houses two political powerhouses:
a)the City Hall(pic 2) that was built in the 14th century and has a neoclassical façade. It opened 10.00-13.30 on sundays and there is a tourist office on the ground floor.
Check the sculpture at the entrance “Three Little Gypsies” made by Juan Rembul. It is a copy of the original made in 1946. The two statues at the entrance are King Jaume I (founder of the Council of the One Hundred which used to meet in the Great Hall at city’s first form of government) and Joan Fiveller(member of the council that put taxes at the members of the court).
b)the Palau de la Generalitat(pic 3), which is the seat of the Catalan government which has a nice gothic staircase.
The Raval is a lively part of the Old Quarter that was originally very much a working class area that has since morphed into a gentrified slum in parts, and just a slum in other areas. It lies to the west of the Rambles, and hosts the MACBA and the CCCB, so many tourists venture into the area. It also has quite a few good restaurants and hip, anarchist-chic type bars, which add to the crowds at night. The thing is that large swathes of the area retain their working class aura thanks to mass immigration, and the parts of the Raval that are closest to the Plaça Universitat are largely Filipino, which those closer to Sant Antoni are majority Pakistani with a large Arab and Berber minority. The farther from the Rambles you go, the more immigrant the area becomes. That's not a bad thing, and you can get great, cheap food in the Raval, sometimes in unique restaurants and locales. You'll also find some great bookstores and a few good cafés, like the chain Bones Migues, on Elisabets, which serves great quiche and, if you're there in the winter, mulled wine. Stop into the Fleca dels Àngels as well, at Carrer d'Elisabets and Carrer dels Àngels, for great baked goods. There are areas to be careful of, however, such as some of the areas east of the Rambla del Raval and south of Carrer de l'Hospital, where prostitution is a thriving industry.
The Portal de l’Àngel is one of my favourite parts of the city, and well it should be: by 2005, rents here had climbed to as much as 180 euro a square metre, making it the second most expensive street in all of Spain. Obviously, prices have come down since the crash in 2008. Nevertheless, this is a chic shopping street in the Barri Gòtic that preserve much of its old-world feeling, despite the plethora of department, shoe and jewellery stores that line the sides of the street. There is also no shortage of culture, but formal and informal: in addition to a small Dali museum/shop here, you can also enjoy a number of buskers and street performers who set up shop on the sides of the street and in the middle. Things can get pretty busy around the Corte Inglés store at the top of the Portal, which is the widest area along the street, and which is where most performers set up shop. There is also a small crafts market here most weekends (and during the week too in the summer).
Close to the Ramblas is the old Gothic Quarter. It is comprised of narrow lanes with high medieval mansions that are quite worth a see. But the lanes are very confusing and it is easy to get lost there. Some of the mansions are really beautiful. Some small souvenir stalls are also there in the quarter.
Built in the middle of the 15th century as the residence of the viceroy (lloctinent), the Palau de Lloctinent mixes Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The interior courtyard is more typically Renaissance with arched porticoes and vaulted ceilings, while the exterior contains Gothic touches including gargoyles. The palace once served as the Arxiu de la Corona d'Aragó (archives of the Crown of Aragon). The palace is located between Plaça del Rei and the Cathedral of Barcelona, and although closed to the public, the palace's gate was wide open and allowed for a photo opportunity.
One of the prime examples of how Barcelona harmoniously blends old and new, the Casa de l'Ardiaca combines Roman, mediaeval and modern construction. The original edifice was built in the 12th century over the Roman wall as the Archdeacon's house and was modified again in the 15th century. A modern addition, housing the national archives, was added in the 20th century. Casa de l'Ardiaca is located next to the Barcelona Cathedral in Barri Gòtic.
Secretly hidden within mediaeval buildings in Barri Gòtic are the astonishing ruins of the Roman Temple of Augustus. Four upright majestic Corinthian columns and the connecting architrave miraculously survived 2000 years within old buildings that were constructed over time. In the last century, they were exposed and made open to the public as seen today in celebration of the Roman heritage of Barcelona. One of the columns was actually moved to this site from another location, but the other three are in their original placement. The sight of the columns is incredible as one meanders through the alleys and enters what is seemingly another Gothic building from the outside, only to be faced with the towering ancient columns. This is one of my favourite spots in Barcelona.
Barri Gòtic is the old part of Barcelona and the site of the original settlement that predates Roman Barcino. During the reign of Emperor Augustus in 27 BC, the site was chosen for the city of Barcino. Even as the city expanded outwards over the centuries, this area remained the administrative part of the city where its most important temples and palaces were located. The district is appropriately named Barri Gòtic as much of its architecture is Gothic, dating from the 12th - 16th centuries. Among its treasured monuments is the Catalan Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona and the Royal Palace. With its mediaeval architecture, narrow streets, small shops and tapas bars, this district is the most charming in all of Barcelona.
Tucked away in a narrow street, Carrer Montsió, Casa Martí is double famous. Not only is it a shining example of Gothic Modernista architecture, but it is also home to the famous cerveseria dels Quatre Gats. Once upon a time, this bar was a rendez-vous place for Barcelona's Modernista painters, such as Casas, Rusiñol and Picasso. The building was completed in 1896 by the Barcelona architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the same architect who designed Casa Amatller on Passeig de Gràcia. The similarity in design is thus no accident, particularly in the intricately carved stone Gothic window frames. Next door to Casa Martí is the attractive Casa Carreras, another building designed (or remodelled) by Puig. This one combines exuberant floral motifs with traditional Spanish tiles and Art Nouveau accents (see attached Photos).
Built in the 13th century, the Palau Reial was the royal palace for the rulers of Barcelona. It was built in part over a section of the Roman fortified walls, while the other façade is on Plaça del Rei. The palace contains the famous Gothic Saló del Tinell, where Christopher Columbus met with Isabel and Fernando upon his return from the Americas. The Saló del Tinell is accessible through the Museu d'Història de la Ciutat, whose entrance is at Palau Clariana-Padellàs next to Capella Reial de Santa Agata.
Rising up like a mediaeval skyscraper, the Mirador del Rei Martí is named after a king who died in 1410 AD. The tower, however, is of a much later construction, completed 1555 AD. Historians are uncertain why the tower was named after a king who had died over a century earlier, but came to the conclusion that it might have replaced an earlier tower with the same name. The Mirador is adjacent to the Palau Reial Major (royal palace).
This old medieval part of the city is very popular with tourists.
It is an area that needs to be discovered by foot. I think you should take some time and walk around these narrow streets and squares in order to experience its beauty and charm.
In this area you will find the Cathedral (Santa Església Catedral Basilica de Barcelona), the Pont dels Sospirs (Bridge of Sighs), Plaça Reial and many, many more.
This Gothic church, located just to the south of Plaça de Sant Jaume, dates from the 14th century. It was built on the site of an older church. Over the centuries, a few additions were made to bring it to its current state. For example, the Gothic windows in the façade were only added in the 19th century, while the octagonal tower was raised in the 15th century.
Also known as Santa Maria del Pi, Església del Pi is one of the churches most representative of Catalan Gothic architecture. The structure dates from the 14th century, but it is said that a Roman temple once existed on the site and possibly also a mosque in later years, although there are no remains from either. The church's square façade is flanked with two small polygonal towers and decorated with an oversized central rose window over an intricately carved Gothic portal.